Methods to keep yourself hydrated

Published 11:05am Friday, August 10, 2012

Since there’s still more hot weather ahead, lots of folks suffer from that age old malady…dehydration.
Dehydration simply means your body doesn’t have as much water as it needs to function properly. Technically speaking, dehydration comes about when one loses two percent of his or her body weight in fluid.
Also, when it comes to sweating, remember if your skin is damp, you’ve lost pints, if it’s wet you’ve lost quarts of water.
Obviously, dehydration is facilitated when temperatures are higher, but there are several other causes that might have nothing to do with heat.
In addition to sweating, your body can lose excessive amounts of water from vomiting, urination, diarrhea, or even breathing. If intravascular (within blood vessels) fluid volume is low, the body merely compensates by shifting water from within cells into blood vessels. Here’s the problem. If cells don’t have enough water inside, the cell’s organelles (little organs within cells) can’t do their jobs, therefore the body’s cells don’t work properly.
In mild cases (one to two percent water loss) of dehydration, symptoms might include unexplained tiredness, thirst, decreased urine volume, abnormally dark urine, headache, lack of tears when crying, dry mouth, and irritability.
Symptoms of moderate dehydration (five to six percent water loss) might include no urine output, extreme sleepiness, lethargy, sunken fontanel (soft spot) in infants, sunken eyes, and fainting.
In cases of severe dehydration (10 percent to 15 percent water loss), symptoms may include tingling in one’s limbs (paresthesia), spastic muscles, dim vision, and possibly shriveled skin. Losses greater than 15 percent are usually fatal.
Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be reversed by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration requires immediate medical treatment.
By far, the safest approach is to prevent dehydration. One thing  I recommend not do, is rely on your sense of thirst when trying to hydrate yourself. One reason is that in people over age 50, the body’s thirst sensation diminishes, and continues to diminish with age.
When I do consultations, I ask if the client drinks much water. If they say “yes”, I ask if they are often thirsty, and invariably they say “yes.” I then ask if they know someone who doesn’t drink much water, and they usually say they do. I then ask if that person is often thirsty. They almost always say “no”. I then ask “doesn’t that seem backward?”
You’d think if someone drank lots of water they wouldn’t be thirsty, and you’d think if someone didn’t drink much water, they would be thirsty, but it doesn’t work that way. Why? Here’s why.

Editor's Picks

St. Luke’s Hospital to host blood drive Aug. 20

Every 90 days, St. Luke’s Hospital hosts a blood drive with The Blood Connection (TBC) because donating blood is just another way we care for ... Read more